Hume finds his scoring boots, ATK keep playoffs hopes alive
It was another dramatic week of the Indian Super League (ISL), one that saw the out-of-form Delhi Dynamos register their first win in almost two months, and an old ISL favourite find his scoring boots in some style.
IAIN HUME came into ISL's fourth season as the top scorer of all time but there was something missing from his performances this season for Kerala Blasters. Hume set that right with a hat-trick against Delhi, one characterised by his terrier-like abilities to chase every cause down in the attacking third. A 1-0 win that came out of the Canadian international's goal against Mumbai City FC gave Kerala their first back-to-back away wins in ISL history, and put them within six points of leaders Chennaiyin FC.
STEVE COPPELL saw his old side Kerala register wins in both their matches over their week but his current side Jamshedpur FC were less fortunate. Away to Goa, Jamshedpur did everything possible possible to overturn a deficit against FC Goa, first by 1-0 and soon by 2-1, but the debutants paid a heavy price for having created a squad heavy in defence and midfield but light in attack.
Kervens Belfort has lacked the necessary support from Indian players like Jerry Mahwmingthanga and Ashim Biswas, and it was no surprise to see centre-back Andre Bikey spend more time in the opponent's half than his own in the last 20 minutes of the game. Jamshedpur's lack of finishing touch could prove to be the difference between making the playoffs and missing out.
LALLIANZUALA CHHANGTE scored a composed finish for Delhi Dynamos against Bengaluru FC on Sunday, timing a defence-splitting run to perfection as he met right-back Pritam Kotal's ball, before releasing a quick shot past Gurpreet Sandhu. It was a move initiated by Vinit Rai, another one of the young Indian players Delhi have invested in what has been a largely forgettable season.
Chhangte celebrated by revealing a vest underneath his jersey with the words 'Proverb 3:56' written on it. The proverb mentioned begins with the lines, "Trust in the lord with all your heart..." and that is exactly what Delhi must do from now on. With eight matches to go, even a mini-streak of wins could bring them within touching distance of the top four, and that would open up the points table further going into the home stretch.
ATK kept their playoff hopes alive with a workmanlike 1-0 win away to NorthEast United over the week. The champions have not been scoring as freely as coach Teddy Sheringham would have been hoping for, but their defensive solidity has kept them in playoffs contention.
The tireless Zequinha scored the winner, with the ball falling to him after a rasping shot from India international Robin Singh was parried by TP Rehenesh in goal. The performance of the Indian players on the night for ATK -- Debjit Majumder in goal, Prabir Das at right-back, Jayesh Rane on the wings, and Robin and Hitesh in attack -- is what will make Sheringham hopeful of ATK sustaining the momentum in the coming week.
SUBASHISH BOSE was sent off in Bengaluru FC's 2-0 defeat to Delhi over the weekend, with coach Albert Roca expressing his displeasure at the incident, that saw Delhi's striker Guyon Fernandez finishing through with what looked like a kick on the shoulder of Bengaluru goalkeeper Gurpreet Sandhu.
However, Bose's unavailability for Bengaluru's next game, away to Mumbai City on January 18, could serve as a blessing in disguise for Roca, who switched from a back-four to a back-three when he had a few defenders missing during the last I-League season. That was when Bengaluru look at their most menacing, enabling full-backs to play a more attacking role. Who knows -- Roca could be forced to do what he hasn't done as yet this ISL, and at the compact Mumbai Football Arena, it could play into their strengths of pace on the wings?